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The Sensual World by Kate Bush - Rounding up the Usual Suspects
Steve's Livejournal
The Sensual World by Kate Bush

Date: 22 Dec 89 07:03:35 GMT

I initially wrote these reviewish comments as replies to someone else's note, but they are general enough that I think they stand as a review by themselves. So anyway, here is a sort-of review of the album. Enjoy or flame as you wish.

[Note: I've trimmed the message I replied slightly.]

1. the sensual world
knocked my socks off the very first time i heard it. great vocals, great backing, great pacing. love those opening church bells.

One of my favorites too. Great start for the album.

2. love and anger
if this is, indeed, the first single from the album then i think the title cut would have made a better choice. i found this to be somewhat choppy and a bit "noisy" in places. i don't recall dave gilmour's contribution from the inner sleeve and i can't say his usually unmistakable guitar sound is in evidence here. more anger than love, if you ask me.

Well, for the U.S. market, I think it's probably a better single choice, since it is somewhat more accessible. I didn't notice a Gilmour contribution on it, positive or negative. I like it a lot.

3. the fog
this is the kind of blend of voice, vocals and instrumentation that worked so well on "Hounds of Love" – solid yet disparate, the album's most transcendental cut.

This one never really caught me much positively or negatively. Only when I've listened specifically for it have I noticed it, but then I've liked it quite a bit.

4. reaching out
controversial track #1. personally i like it a lot.

On the other hand, I'm on the don't like it side. It's good, but not up to her usual top quality stuff. I'd have rather had her include something else and cut this, or leave it for a b-side or something.

5. heads we're dancing
kate at her quirky best and this album's answer to "Get Out of My House" or "The Wedding List."

I like this a lot too. It's really accessible, and if not for the risk of misunderstanding I'd say it would be a good single choice. With that, she's best off not putting it on a single, unless the promoters think controversy will boost sales more than it will suppress them.

(Since writing this, I've heard rumors to the effect that this will be the next single somewhere. Not sure if it's the next U.S. single, the next U.K. single, or if the rumors are just plain bogus.)

6. deeper understanding
anyone involved in computers should find this lyrically embarrassing. not only does she press "execute" but puts in that cutesy computer sound too

I like it. I agree that the technical view of computers is pretty cutesy, but I think it's nice. Assuming that the computer friend is a program is technically unrealistic, but it's a nice literary device. Assuming it's the net (or better, something interactive like CompuServe CB or French Minitel) makes it sound like a biography of a lot of people I've known, ones who would on Usenet be told to "get a life".

7. between a man and a woman
nothing special here but some nice arrangements nonetheless.

A lot like my impression: Nice but not great.

8. never be mine
this is more like it! substantive, generous, sincere – these are just some of the words i'd use to describe this, one of the best tracks on the album. the chorus just folds you up inside; it's a beautifully controlled, heartfelt offering.

This is one of my favorites too. I really like the wide vocal range in the music. I don't notice the lyrics much unless I listen for them, but they're really nice if I do. The music is so cool that even the really good lyrics are secondary.

9. rocket's tail
controversial track #2. this one's wasted on me. a lot of indecisive musing topped off with a riff which falls way short (ooh – just like a rocket... maybe i'm missing something here?). but again, i didn't "hear" gilmour and even if i did it'd be too late. this cut's much ado about nothing as far as i'm concerned – definitely the weakest on the album.

I like this one a lot. The switch from being critical of the friend's strange entertainment to joining into it enthusiastic really works well for me. The transition from Kate and Trio mostly vocal to loud guitar based rock goes really nicely with the thematic transition. Musically, I'd say it's one of the stronger, showing off a lot of the best musical resources Kate had to work with, her vocal range, the Trio, and Gilmour's jamming.

(and HOW can you MISS Gilmour on this, without skipping the latter half of the song?)

10. this woman's work.
kate puts away the production pyrotechnics and simply let's her voice pull it off. and she does a very nice job, methinks...

I like this one a lot too. And it's my girlfriend's favorite song of any by anyone. I didn't see the movie so I don't know the context other than from the explanations of it I've heard and read, but I think it stands up well with or without it. When I'm with my girlfriend to see her reaction to it, it's my favorite too, but by myself it's just better-than-average-Kate.

11. <cut missing> ["Walk Straight Down the Middle"]
i have the album, not the CD/tape.

It's really great. It is a lot closer to deserving to be a single than a bonus track, in my opinion. It's worth the price difference between the LP and the CD. I might still get the LP for the big cover though, but I haven't so far. They should have made "Reaching Out" the bonus track instead – this is a lot better.

My overall impression of the album: Something of a disappointment. Not because it isn't a wonderful album, but because there was an inadequate track (in my opinion, "Reaching Out"), and because it just didn't quite make the expectations I had after the four year wait and two godlike predecessor albums (and three more almost as great). Taking it out of comparison with other Kate, it's top of the line wonderful though!

Merry Christmas to all...

Steve [real last name, which people shared back then]
steve@sensual.wa.com (Yet another site named after a Kate Bush song)
I think I'm mapped. If it fails, use "nwnexus!sensual!steve" instead.

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